Shanghai on Wednesday relaxed a range of Covid-19 restrictions in a move to return to normalcy after a two-month lockdown that confined megacity residents to their homes and crippled China’s economy.
The 25-million-strong commercial center was shut down in sections since late March, when the Omicron virus variant caused China’s worst outbreak since Kovid first took over in 2020.
After some rules were gradually relaxed over the past few weeks, authorities on Wednesday began allowing residents of low-risk areas to move freely around the city.
“This is a moment we have been waiting for a long time,” the Shanghai municipal government said in a statement on social media.
“Because of the effects of the epidemic, Shanghai, a megacity, has entered an unprecedented period of silence.”
On Wednesday morning, people were seen traveling on the Shanghai subway and heading towards the office building, while some shops were preparing to open.
The day before, the bright yellow barriers that had hammered buildings and city blocks for weeks had been removed in many areas.
Sanctions hit the city’s economy, ripped off supply chains in China and abroad, and sparked signs of resentment among residents across the lockdown.
Deputy Mayor Jung Ming told reporters Tuesday that the relaxation would affect about 22 million people in the city.
Malls, convenience stores, pharmacies and beauty salons will be allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity, while parks and other scenic spots will be gradually reopened, he added.
But the cinema and gym are closed and schools – closed from mid-March – will gradually reopen on a voluntary basis.
Bus, subway and ferry services will also resume, transport officials said.
Taxi services and private cars will also be allowed in low-risk areas, so that people can meet friends and family outside their district.
Still not normal
However, the city government has warned that the situation is not normal yet.
“Currently, there is still no room for relaxation in integrating the achievements of epidemic prevention and control,” it says.
China is adamant on a zero-quad strategy, which includes quick lockdowns, mass tests and long quarantines to completely eradicate the infection.
But the economic costs of that policy have risen, and the Shanghai government said Wednesday that “the task of accelerating economic and social recovery is becoming increasingly urgent.”
E-commerce professional Chen Ying said before simplifying that he still plans to work from home but could treat his two-year-old son for a long-awaited walk outside.
“We should have been independent in the beginning, so don’t expect me to be deeply grateful now that they gave it back to us,” he told AFP.
Factories and businesses were also set to resume operations after being inactive for weeks.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)